Business versus Art…Aw, shit, not THAT again.
Can you operate in the world using both incisive thinking and creativity? Can you do it simultaneously? Or must you do it serially? Are emotion and intellect trying to crowd each other out of our poor, overburdened brains? Is bi-hemispheric thinking possible?
Yeah, yeah, I know. Over-simplification of the issue.
For many years I had long creative droughts during periods which were dominated by 60-100 hour weeks in business settings. For years it seemed like my most creative periods happened when I was not earning any money at all in any â€œstraightâ€ job whatsoever.
Before my second performance night for â€œPinocchio and Carlo Collodiâ€ (written by the brilliant Stephanie Golino), I got fired from a gig at a trade show. Matter of fact, they even told me they wouldn’t pay me for the work I’d already done. Matter of double-fact, they told me they wouldn’t pay me back for supplies I had already bought and set up for them nor would they pay me back for my sub-contractors whom I had also already paid. What a wretched day in Silicon Valley. Scum.
I left the convention center and arrived at the theater worried out of my mind: that crappy, slimy, dung-heap of a trade show gig was our family’s only income for the month. Emotions pushed to the surface, everything raw, I tore up the stage. Stephanie loved my work that night.
Is it the ability to be overwhelmed with emotion that allows us to be creative?
Or is it the breaking of behavior patterns that allows us to be creative?
When I had a day job at IBM that consumed a glob of intellectual energy, required long hours and demanded a structured, professional demeanor, it was extremely difficult for me to be at my creative peak in the so-called â€œoff hoursâ€ or â€œfree timeâ€ after work. I felt that forcing myself into the professional demeanor dulled my artistic instrument. After all, a businesswoman is supposed to be calm, cool, able to maneuver. She definitely should not be crying in meetings when someone rejects her proposals. I was reining in my natural emotions and urges all dayâ€”I would have to stop myself from crying during meetings; I would stop myself from screaming at idiots. I controlled my behavior with an iron will.
Yet, to be a good performer, one must NOT control one’s behavior. To perform, to interpret the emotions of our human existence, I must have my skin flayed off. I must be excruciatingly sensitive to every input. As the character, I must be able to scream at idiots; to cry at the slightestâ€¦wellâ€¦slight. Discovering a tiny spider must send me over the edge into blithering insanity. As Medea, I must be able to murder my own children in cold blood just because I’m mad at my ex-husband.
So, is the breakdown between business and creativity a question of emotional availability? Is it a behavioral issue?
Or is it chemical?
Recently I have a hell of a time remembering anything. It affects my performance in job interviews.
â€œWhat was the name of the tool you used to edit these photos?â€
â€œUm. Something. Can’t remember.â€
Those in the over-40 crowd like to joke about having contracted the middle-age disease called CRS (Can’t Remember Shit.) Ha, ha, not funny. So, I tried a nootropic drug called sulbutiamine that is supposed to be good for memory & object recognition. Soon, I could remember faces and facts a little better. But, I stopped writing. No screenplays; not this blog. I stopped designing jewelry. I stank up the room at auditions.
In further reading, I found that sulbutiamine, which inhibits the destruction of acetylcholine (a stimulating neurotransmitter) in the brain in order to increase concentration, memory, and alertness also has been observed to negatively affect creativity and free-associative thoughts. Damn!
No, seriously. What a devil’s dilemma. Shall I allow myself to become so stupid that I can’t get hired in a straight job? Or shall I fix that problem and be useless as an interpretive or generative artist?
Long time ago, I had a T-shirt that said, â€œI can’t decide if I should commit suicide or go bowling.â€ Don’t know what that has to do with this current discussion. Um. Forgot what I was going to say. Who are you, now? Can’t remember how to format HTML, but DAMN, I love youâ€¦you are soooo gorgeous. Let’s make love against the side of this car. What was your name again?